Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) constantly evaluates its success with respect to student achievement consistent with its mission. The University assesses achievement using enrollment data, degree completion data, job placement, performance on state and national licensing exams and other measures of student performance. A number of degree programs offered at FGCU lead to eligibility for state or national professional licensing/certification examinations. In certain cases, results on these licensing and certification exams along with course completion data are required as indicators for use in the specialized accreditations (e.g., Nursing-CCNE, Occupational Therapy-ACOTE, Physical Therapy-CAPTE, and Clinical Laboratory Science-NAACLS). A structure already exists in many professional programs (such as Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Clinical Laboratory Science, Civil Engineering, and Education) to use the results of licensing exams and course completion to adjust the curriculum to improve student performance. FGCU’s Physical Therapy program has used feedback from graduate performance on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to revise its “Physical Therapy Practice” course series. Similarly the Occupational Therapy program has also used licensing exam results to foster curricular change to enhance student performance as have Nursing, Education, and Clinical Laboratory Science.
The FGCU Board of Trustees annually sets goals with the President for the administration of the University to achieve. The goals and measures used to assess attainment of annual goals closely align with key performance indicators used at the State level to measure performance of each State University. These include academic quality, operational efficiency, return on investment, and performance funding metrics. Among the metrics monitored (that are directly tied to student achievement to determine goal attainment) are statistics related to enrollment growth, diversity, student retention, degree production (completion) determined by level (undergraduate and graduate), and professional license attainment. Under the guidance of the President, the success of FGCU's administration in attaining these goals is directly tied to incentives in the President's contract that may be awarded based upon a vote of the FGCU Board of Trustees with input from the State's Board of Governors.
The Florida Board of Governors also sets and subsequently evaluates goals for FGCU's annual performance. These goals heavily emphasize student achievement consistent with the mission set for FGCU as a primarily master's large university (that is focused predominantly on undergraduate and graduate education with a few select doctoral programs) as defined by the Carnegie Classification scheme. These measures are collected in the Annual Report which is prepared by institutional staff working in collaboration with Board of Governors staff. The report is formally reviewed by the FGCU Board of Trustees and subsequently submitted to the Board of Governors for review each June. Measures related to student achievement used to assess the efficiency of the University in fulfilling its mission include:
- enrollment statistics,
- graduation and success rates for native and transfer students,
- students completing degrees without excess credit hours,
- degree completions by race and socioeconomic status,
- degrees completed in areas deemed of strategic importance to the state (including STEM, health, education, global studies, and disciplines filling workforce gaps),
- post-graduation employment and pursuit of advanced degrees, wages earned following graduation, courses taught by full-time faculty,
- student-faculty ratios, and
- course section sizes.
State licensing results are also shared with the FGCU Board of Trustees through the University’s Annual Report to the Board of Governors (and in turn are considered by the Florida Board of Governors). Cumulative licensing exam passing rates in the health professions tend to run in the 90-100% range while first-time pass rates from 90-100%. Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program (FETPIP) data show the University is a consistent leader within the State University System for post-graduation employment in the State of Florida. FETPIP data by program are also used to confirm academic program efficacy and demonstrate high continuing employment for FGCU graduates within the State of Florida years after graduation.
In 2013, the Board of Governors, in collaboration with the state legislature and the Governor, moved the funding model from one formerly based on enrollment to one that emphasizes performance based on student achievement. In the first such exercise carried out in September 2013, FGCU achieved the second highest score value in the State University System. In 2016, the Board of Governors’ revised the methodologies used to determine performance in a number of metrics. FGCU has achieved excellence in metrics related to access rate, undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded in areas of strategic emphasis, and degrees awarded to minority students.
The University has placed additional emphases on student retention and success by allocating resources to expand support for students. The Strategic Plan was updated in 2017 to expand upon student success with a primary focus on student retention, timely degree completion, academic achievement, degree attainment and guidance of students toward attainment of successful careers and meaningful lives. Specific objectives further outline internal strategies in place to measure student achievement. Additionally, the Department of Institutional Research created interactive dashboards for use by faculty, staff and administrators. These dashboards provide internal users with an opportunity to review specific data elements, reports and student information to improve student achievement. For example, academic program leaders can review course completion data to determine where, in the curriculum, student achievement gaps are notable and deliberately allocate resources to address improvement strategies. Data can be reviewed at the institutional, college, department, and course levels. Additionally, data can be organized by student category such as program major, enrollment status, race, gender, class, and performance metrics.
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